The chief executive officer of INDYCAR parent Hulman and Co. says he is virtually commuting each week to New York in order to lock up a new media deal title sponsor for the series. Mark Miles says the decision was prompted by Verizon’s shifting focus to the NFL and NBA and gives executives a year to line-up the next marquis sponsor. The telecommunications provider will remain a backer of Team Penske. The 2018 season will kick off with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and Miles tells Inside INdiana Sports Contributor Bill Benner two new races could be in the series’ future.
One, a return after a decade away from Portland, has been confirmed as a replacement for the exit at Watkins Glen International. An international race could still be added August 5th, as Miles says a possibility of running in Mexico City remains.
He ticked down some of the accomplishments of the 2017 season — a series championship won in the final week by American Josef Newgarden, increasing television ratings and a successful return to the St. Louis market with the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at the Gateway Motorsports Park — and said 2018 could be even better. "We think it’s pretty sexy," Miles said, talking about the new chassis for the new season, "it’s getting unbelievably strong reviews. We just don’t see critics of it and that’s sort of the aesthetic. But we’ve now had it on the track being tested by drivers like Oriol Servia and Juan Pablo Montoyo and they’re getting out of the cars with grins on their faces. They think that — one of the things you see is it’s a lot cleaner, kind of on the top of it. So there’s a little less downforce in total and what there is is more on the bottom, which means there’s less disruption coming off the back of the car, so I think they’ll get closer and there will be even better racing."
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is also gearing up for it’s second year of a massive lights display for the holiday season. Miles expects upward of 50,000 fans to visit the attraction between November 17 and December 30.